Volodymyr Zelenskyy Gives Speech as Part of Cannes Film Festival Opening: 'We Continue Fighting'

"We will win in this war. Glory to Ukraine," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a speech at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival's opening ceremony

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a speech on evaluation the 22nd day of the Russia-Ukraine war during virtually addressing in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 17, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Photo: Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed attendees at the opening ceremony for the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.

At the French film festival on Tuesday, Zelenskyy, 44, appeared via livestream on a big screen for a speech about the importance of cinema and fighting dictatorship. (Prior to taking office in May 2019, Zelenskyy was known for doing comedy sketches, serving as a producer and starring in movies.)

The remarks, which were met with a standing ovation, come as Russia and Vladimir Putin continue their invasion of Ukraine, which thrust the leader into the global spotlight during wartime.

"We continue fighting. We have no choice but to continue fighting for our freedom," he said, translated to English, according to Variety. He also added, "I'm sure that the dictator will lose. We will win in this war. Glory to Ukraine."

Per the Associated Press, Zelenskyy added, "We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent. Today, the cinema is not silent. Remember these words. ... The power they've taken from the people will be returned to the people."

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Ahead of the annual festival, Cannes organizers issued a statement boycotting Russian delegations from participating in the event. They said, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "As the world has been hit by a heavy crisis in which a part of Europe finds itself in a state of war, the Festival de Cannes wishes to extend all its support to the people of Ukraine and all those who are in its territory."

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"However modest as it is, we join our voices with those who oppose this unacceptable situation and denounce the attitude of Russia and its leaders," they continued. "Our thoughts go out in particular to the Ukrainian artists and film industry professionals, as well as their families whose lives are now in danger. There are those whom we've never met, and those whom we've come to know and welcomed to Cannes, who came with works that say much about Ukraine's history and the present."

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The statement added, "... Unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people, it has been decided that we will not welcome official Russian delegations nor accept the presence of anyone linked to the Russian government."

"However, we would like to salute the courage of all those in Russia who have taken risks to protest against the assault and invasion of Ukraine," the Cannes statement continued. "Among them are artists and film professionals who have never ceased to fight against the contemporary regime, who cannot be associated with these unbearable actions, and those who are bombing Ukraine."

"Loyal to its history that started in 1939 in resistance to the fascist and Nazi dictatorship, the Festival de Cannes will always serve artists and industry professionals that raise their voices to denounce violence, repression and injustices, for the main purpose to defend peace and liberty," the statement concluded.

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Millions of Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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